San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds: Team Grades from NLDS Game 5
Game 5 of the NLDS is in the books, and the San Francisco Giants have done the impossible. Never before had a National League team lost the first two games of a five-game series and come back to win.
This was a game that featured amazing catches, costly errors and one very memorable grand slam. And true to the form of October baseball, it came down to the very last pitch.
Here is how Game 5 graded out in Cincinnati.
Mat Latos: D
Line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Mat Latos entered Game 5 as a certified Giants killer. He pitched brilliantly in his spot start in Game 1 after presumed starter Johnny Cueto left the game after eight pitches. In his two regular-season starts against the Giants, Latos went 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA and 0.50 WHIP over 16 innings.
His dominance would not extend into Game 5. After getting off to an impressive start over his first four innings, Latos allowed a Gregor Blanco single. Brandon Crawford tripled him home, and a fielding error put Angel Pagan on first. Latos then walked Marco Scutaro and gave up a single to Pablo Sandoval.
Suddenly, Latos found himself facing Buster Posey with the bases loaded. They weren't loaded long.
One grand slam later, and Latos was done for the day. In a game where his past dominance over the Giants was desperately needed, Latos wilted under pressure and gave the opposition a six-run lead.
Sam LeCure: A
Line: 0.2 IP, 0 H,0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
LeCure came in to relieve Latos after the Posey grand slam and ensured the Giants rally did not extend further. He got Hunter Pence to ground out and then struck out Brandon Belt. He's been solid for Cincinnati throughout the NLDS, and today's game was no exception.
Sean Marshall: A+
Line: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Sean Marshall brutalized the Giants hitters, pitching two innings of three up, three down ball on the heels of a six-run inning in the fifth. He threw only 17 pitches and allowed his team a chance to regain some of its lost momentum.
Jonathan Broxton: B
Line: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Aside from a single to Hunter Pence, Broxton did his job and didn't let the Giants add to their lead. He was helped in a big way by Brandon Phillips, whose catch on Brandon Belt's liner had everything to do with Pence not scoring.
Aroldis Chapman: A
Line: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
With the Giants eager to add to their three-run lead, Chapman allowed Brandon Crawford to single and then set the next three batters he saw down in quick succession. He gave the Reds hope going into a jam-packed bottom of the ninth.
San Francisco Giants
Matt Cain: C+
Line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Matt Cain overcame a Zack Cozart single and a Joey Votto walk to escape the bottom of the first inning. Up until the bottom of the fifth, Cain allowed only two other baserunners, one on a fielding error by Pablo Sandoval.
However, things began to unravel in the fifth. The Giants were looking for a shutdown inning after scoring six runs in the top of the fifth, but Cain instead allowed two runs by hitting leadoff man Ryan Hanigan, allowing a single to Drew Stubbs and then a two-run double to Brandon Phillips.
Cain would finish out the fifth and return for the sixth. In that inning, Ryan Ludwick smacked a leadoff home run. Jay Bruce followed with a walk, and Scott Rolen lined a single to center field. Cain fought through a brutal at-bat against Ryan Hanigan in which the Giants ace looked completely gassed, eventually striking Hanigan out before being replaced on the mound by George Kontos.
With a low pitch count heading into the bottom of the fifth, Cain's inability to go deeper into the game while also giving back half of his team's lead turned a somewhat comfortable situation back into a nail-biter.
George Kontos: A
Line: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 KK
Facing only one batter, Kontos did his job and got Drew Stubbs to ground out with Scott Rolen on second.
Jeremy Affeldt: B
Line: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Affeldt didn't allow a run, but he did make things hairy by putting two runners on base in his one inning of work. With Ryan Ludwick at the plate, he coaxed a grounder to end the seventh.
Javier Lopez: A
Line: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Lopez faced one batter, Jay Bruce, and put him away on a grounder back to the pitcher.
Santiago Casilla: D
Line: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Casilla entered the game and gave up a single to Scott Rolen. After a liner to Brandon Crawford got Ryan Hanigan out, Todd Frazier knocked another single to center field. Bruce Bochy had seen enough and went with his closer by default, Sergio Romo. A poor performance by Casilla, who seems to be more and more unreliable in crucial situations.
Sergio Romo: B
Line: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
The bottom of the ninth was a game unto itself. Romo got an out before walking Cozart and getting hit by Joey Votto for a single. Ryan Ludwick did what he always does and brought Cozart home on a single to left field. He then faced Jay Bruce in a 12-pitch duel that ended with Bruce flying out to left field. Facing Scott Rolen with the season in balance, Romo struck him out to send the Giants to the NLCS.
His shaky moments were enough to give someone an ulcer, but credit must be given for his resolve in gathering himself and finishing the job.
2B Brandon Phillips (2-5)
SS Zack Cozart (1-4)
1B Joey Votto (2-4)
LF Ryan Ludwick (2-5)
RF Jay Bruce (1-4)
3B Scott Rolen (2-5)
C Ryan Hanigan (0-3)
CF Drew Stubbs (1-3)
The Reds got a late start scoring runs, but their timing was right on the money. They stole back the thunder of Buster Posey's grand slam by putting three runs across in the bottom of the fifth and sixth. They threatened in the seventh, but couldn't deliver, leaving two runners aboard. The Reds did everything they could in the bottom of the ninth to turn the tides, and while their efforts came up short, it was an impressive effort.
San Francisco Giants
CF Angel Pagan (0-4)
2B Marco Scutaro (1-4)
3B Pablo Sandoval (2-4)
C Buster Posey (1-4)
RF Hunter Pence (2-4)
1B Brandon Belt (0-4)
LF Gregor Blanco (1-4)
SS Brandon Crawford (2-4)
The Giants missed a chance to start the scoring early when they stranded two runners in the top of the first. But they would take advantage of their next opportunity, scoring six runs in the top of the fifth. Any offensive day that includes a grand slam is nothing to hang your head about.
Shortstop Zack Cozart had a costly error that put Angel Pagan on base ahead of Buster Posey's grand slam. You certainly can't pin the four runs on Cozart, but from two outs and no one on to one out and one on are entirely different planets for a pitcher. His error loomed huge in the wake of Posey's big fly.
Brandon Phillips, playing at an All-Star-caliber level throughout the NLDS, did his part to limit the damage when he made a diving catch on a hit by Brandon Belt. Despite being highlight-reel worthy in terms of execution, the out provided by Phillips also saved a run, with Hunter Pence only able to go from second to third.
Overall, the Reds defense was efficient. Walks and home runs are not the burden of the players behind the mound, and Brandon Phillips and Co. did everything possible from the sixth inning onward to stop the Giants from adding to their lead.
Pablo Sandoval's error in the second inning had the makings of a disaster. Ryan Hanigan bailed out the Panda by hitting into a double-play and erasing Rolen, but the importance of clean defense shined brightly.
Buster Posey's defense was of an entirely different caliber when he threw out Hanigan at third base on a strike-out, throw-out double play. By eliminating the runner at third, Posey gave Matt Cain some breathing room that he desperately needed. Ditto Angel Pagan, who made a critical sliding catch to end the eighth inning with runners on first and second.
Brandon Crawford was sharp at shortstop with some nifty glove work, and Gregor Blanco made a nifty catch in the early part of the game to take away a hit. Overall, the Giants defense did what was necessary, which was to ensure that the game wasn't lost on their account.
Final Team Grades
Cincinnati Reds: B-
The Reds needed more runs and better pitching. Mat Latos couldn't live up to his own reputation, and a nerve-shattering bottom-of-the-ninth rally fell short for Cincinnati. They were resilient in the face of Posey's grand slam, shutting down the Giants offensively and making every effort to even the score until the final out.
San Francisco Giants: A
The Giants beat history by winning this game. It was their third elimination road win in a row. They overcame more troubles from ace Matt Cain, bringing in a stable of relievers who kept the Reds from taking back the lead. At the plate, timely hitting and a monster grand slam gave San Francisco all the offense it'd need to move forward to the NLCS.
With the team's track record against Mat Latos, for it to knock him out of the game in that fashion is playoff baseball at its finest.